As we drove along Daggett, I said to my daughter, “If you dropped a toasted ravioli in front of every Italian restaurant on The Hill, how many pounds of ravioli would you need?”
Robin is used to my quirky ponderings, so she answered with a question of her own. “How many Hill restaurants can you name?” Since I’m a “word person,” I began listing alphabetically every restaurant I could think of from Adriana’s to Zia’s. Being a spatial thinker, Robin made her list by street corner locations. We came up with more than a dozen, though I suspect the number is several time over that, depending on what you include.
The Hill in St. Louis is more than restaurants serving wine and pasta. More than specialty groceries with imported cheeses and locally made sausages. There’s also a cutlery store, bakeries, bocce gardens, and a soap maker (more on Ken Gilberg in a later post). Then there’s the favorite of the gals in my family: Skif, the maker of “free form, innovative, eco-chic” women’s wear and the brainchild of local fashion designer Nina Ganci.
Of course, Nina’s place was our first stop. It being lunch time, Sicilian hospitality was evident by the warm welcome and the long food table in the kitchen at the back of the store. One of the items that caught my eye was the roasted eggplant and green tomatoes cooked that morning by Nina’s mother, Dora.
“It’s simple to make,” Dora said, as she explained the non-recipe to me. The next day I adapted her instructions, using zucchini and a similar recipe I found on line. This is a great summer appetizer and a splendid way to use all that garden squash. (See photos at end of post.)
Dora and her sister Fran were going across the street to their cousin’s place, DiGregorio Market. They asked me to go along. I really didn’t need anything, but who can resist an Italian “supermarket” condensed into a corner grocery.
I replenished my balsamic vinegar and olive oil and got some hard-to-find Bucatani noodles (the ones with the pin-head-size hole running through the noodle). At Dora’s suggestion, I bought the homemade meatballs and some anchovies to perk up my salad dressings.
There’s so much to see and do on The Hill. I’ve only mentioned a few hours spent there this past Saturday, but it was great fun. Oh, I forgot to tell you that I bought a top at Skif. The staff made the slight alterations right on the spot and I walked out a happy shopper.
Inspired by my visit to the Hill, I experimented with the following dishes the next day.
DiGregorio’s Market: 5200 Corner of Marconi and Daggett on the Hill. Open: Mon.-Sat. 8a–5:30p (Deli Counter closes at 5p); closed Sunday.
Skif International: 2008 Marconi Ave; Open: Mon.-Sat. 10a-5p.